The exact origin of Okra is debatable. However, given its infusion into the United States with the slave trade c.1650 and its heavy cultivation in the early geographic areas of Charleston and New Orleans, it is most likely a native of West Africa. Numerous untamed species of Okra still exist today in East Africa (Ethiopia and along the Upper Nile). Okra is related to the beautiful hibiscus flower and the cotton plant. This is not at all surprising, for when in bloom, the flower of the Okra is far more captivating than many a garden annual. The dried okra seed also has magical qualities – when roasted and ground it can make a fine substitute for coffee.